When we lived in New Haven, my husband’s Aunt Ruth invited us for Thanksgiving to their house in Franklin Lakes, NJ. “What’s your favorite thing to eat for Thanksgiving?” she asked. “Bring that.” So I made up a big casserole dish full of yams mashed with orange juice and brown sugar, mini marshmallows on top, and brought it simply to a gathering of the Chinese family.
It was a feast! Uncle Lem brought a giant turkey from Chinatown and boy did it taste great. One time I got to take the carcass home because I’d found a giant stockpot someone had left out by the trash (not wanting to throw it out, hoping someone could use it-I found my best frying pan there too) and it made the best tasting turkey soup I’ve ever made. When I told my mom that and she asked for the recipe I couldn’t give it because it was all in that turkey; however the shop had marinated it.
So I brought my favorite every year to Uncle Lem’s and Auntie Ruth’s. Auntie Ruth told me to consider their place my home, and when the baby came we gave Lem and Ruth the Chinese name for mother’s father and mother’s mother: I felt so adopted and loved by them.
Then one year there was a second dish of yams at the table. They were cut in chunks and roasted with rosemary, kosher salt, and other herbs? They were delicious. I was saying so, when the cousin who brought them turned to her husband and said, “See? I told you so.”
It’s not good to overhear conversations.
It’s important to forget what you’ve overheard if it sticks like a burr in your memory.
Obviously I haven’t forgotten. But I think I’ve covered it in pearl.
At the time I imagined the backstory: Beth always brings the yams; you’ll offend her if you bring an alternate dish. No I won’t; she’ll love them.
Did she think so little of me? Or so much of me, that I am loving and impervious to what could be slights? Nowadays I think the latter. Or maybe a combination. I have a reigning image of the special ed kids my mother taught when I was in elementary school, and her class loved each other and stood up for each other on the playground when one was called dummy. Perhaps I’m not as sharp as the relatives, perhaps I’m not as petite and pretty in their way, but what I lack in competitive areas I’m willing to make up for in loving.
So now, whether I make candied sweet potatoes or mini-marshmallow ones (my daughter’s favorite) or herbed roasted ones, I will do it lovingly. I think I can depend on God’s love to be the main point of the Thanksgiving gathering.
Oh, and I always want to invite a crowd, and ask them to bring whatever is their favorite dish!
I didn’t print out leaves for guests to write their thanks upon as I’d meant to do (there was a free download before Halloween at aholyexperience.com) but I’m thinking now to get out our leaf cookie cutters and have icing in bags available for folks to write their thanks upon leaf cookies.
What traditions do you hold dear? What new ideas are you incorporating this year?